What if the world isn’t about to blow up? What if most everything is slowly getting better and better? Would there be nothing to worry about then?

The new book by Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, documents, using 75 well-crafted graphs, how life has gotten better in a host of realms.

Pinker is perhaps the finest public intellectual of our time, yet his prose style remains immensely accessible. (I detect hints of Dave Barry.)

Consider airliner safety. During the month of August 1985, when I was flying frequently on business, three commercial jet airliners crashed, killing 712 people. In contrast, in the entire year of 2017, there was not a single fatal commercial jet airliner crash anywhere in the world.

This trend didn’t happen automatically or effortlessly. Guys like my father, an engineer at Lockheed from the 1930s to the 1980s, put a lot of sweat into making planes safer. And when they failed, they had to walk the crash sites picking up broken pieces of the plane (and of the passengers).

Fortunately, we don’t have too many vested interests on the side of airplane crashes. Even so, it took until 1975 for Congress to make the National Transportation Safety Board independent of the Department of Transportation so that its reviews of each plane crash were not fettered by the need to cover up politically embarrassing mistakes.

In contrast, the recent school shooting in Broward County by a blatantly scary youth who should have had a record a mile long followed a half-dozen-year-long scheme among local and Obama Administration officials to reduce arrests of black and Hispanic teens in the name of racial and ethnic equality. Unlike with plane crashes, there remains intense political pressure to keep this history hushed up, even though Broward officials had boasted about their plan in the past.

“Saving the world from African overpopulation is eminently doable, but it does require the courage to mention in polite society that it’s a problem.”

Similarly, we still don’t have a National Immigration Safety Board to objectively investigate how to make our immigration system less of a crapshoot.

Nor do we have a system of immigration insurance requiring immigrants to purchase insurance against the risks they impose upon Americans. This would create financial incentives against filling up the country with needless risks.

Unfortunately, thinking rationally about immigration policy Is Not Who We Are. (For example, Pinker’s massive book extolling rationality only refers to immigration or immigrants on seven pages, with the most extended treatment of the topic being “Cuisines introduced by, 259–60.”)

As you may have noticed from the news, one thing that does seem to be getting worse is mass shootings by more or less suicidal gunmen, which really wasn’t a Thing in the popular mind until the U. of Texas tower shooting in 1966. The first modern K–12 school shooting with random victims would appear to have been committed by a 16-year-old girl in San Diego in 1979 who explained, “I don’t like Mondays.” If that had not been immediately turned into a hit song by the Boomtown Rats, perhaps school shootings wouldn’t have become a copycatted concept?

Why have there seemingly been more suicide killers in recent decades? Perhaps the jihadis think they’ll go to heaven for killing infidels and the ex-Christians don’t fear going to hell anymore.

But this trend doesn’t fit within Pinker’s optimistic secularist worldview, so it doesn’t get much attention in Enlightenment Now other than to dismiss it as statistically little more significant than death by beestings or lightning strikes.

And even lightning strikes are not much of a danger anymore:

Yes, thanks to urbanization and to advances in weather prediction, safety education, medical treatment, and electrical systems, there has been a thirty-seven-fold decline since the turn of the 20th century in the chance that an American will be killed by a bolt of lightning.

A journalist recently asked me if I thought we were doomed.

Most people who take an interest in public affairs feel that things can’t possibly go on much longer like they are now, and thus the end is nigh. But, like Pinker, I’m rather blithe by personality, so I said, “Probably not. Most likely, things will get better.”

For example, our standard of living has been carried along for half a century by the beneficent power of Moore’s Law, the rapid doubling of computer power. But now, just as Moore’s Law seems to be petering out, we suddenly have a lot of oil and natural gas, with U.S. oil output doubling over the past dozen years due to unexpected technological advances by the energy industry.

This is not to say that this good luck will continue indefinitely or that something very bad won’t happen sooner or later. Whatever it is will likely come as a big surprise to me, however.

On the other hand, I have been pointing out for some time that one huge problem obviously facing the world is the staggering population growth of sub-Saharan Africa.

As recently as 2004, the United Nations demographers made a Pinkerian assumption that black Africa’s population would reach only 2 billion by the end of this century. But as the U.N. looked more into the question, it realized that Africa was not undergoing the “demographic transition” to low fertility anywhere near as rapidly as the rest of the world. Thus, the U.N. has issued ever-increasing forecasts for sub-Saharan population in this decade, with the 2017 estimate being over 4 billion.

This probably isn’t the end of the world, it’s just depressing. The mid-20th-century “Great Migration” from the American South numbered only 6 or 7 million, but it still destroyed Detroit. The much greater migration heading from Africa to Europe will likely do far worse. The cities of Europe that survived the Second World War are probably the greatest works of arts of humanity, but, under present trends, they are going to be inundated by immigrant Africans, turning Florence into Ferguson, Barcelona into Baltimore, and Edinburgh into East St. Louis.

There’s little need for this impending destruction. Africa is a vast continent with, as Pinker suggests, plenty of room to grow far more food than it does now. But Africans are a threat to overwhelm Europe (and, eventually, the rest of the Western world) because our culture is increasingly sacralizing blacks, with the worst sin being to speak realistically of their strengths and weaknesses.

This doesn’t have to happen. Non-African Third World countries, even Bangladesh, have largely started to get their fertility under control. And civilized countries such as Japan, Israel, and Hungary have demonstrated that protecting their borders from migrants is merely a matter of political will.

Saving the world from African overpopulation is eminently doable, but it does require the courage to mention in polite society that it’s a problem. (Pinker doesn’t show much appetite for this challenge.)

But leaving the African population bomb aside, I was asked, “If you don’t think we are necessarily battling apocalyptic problems, why do you care?” The Pinkerian perspective that things are getting better all the time might suggest that there’s no reason to take a stand.

I have two reasons, though, for caring about politics even if life might continue to get slightly better for the average American even without the kind of heresies I’ve helped inject into the political process.

The first reason is what economists might call opportunity cost: the potential gains from making an even better choice. Just because you are doing okay doesn’t mean Americans couldn’t do better.

I hate to say this, because the last thing I ever want to sound like is a writer for Salon, but damn, this “debate” over school shootings is so very…white. I’ve mentioned before, and it bears repeating at the moment, that as a child I attended majority black L.A. public schools. Well, “majority black” is an accurate label for my junior high. My high school would be better described as Zimbabwe. This was during the first half of the 1980s, when the crack epidemic was in full swing, and black gangs, specifically the Crips and Bloods, ruled the streets of “black L.A.” and routinely battled over turf and drug profits.

Yet I don’t have a single story to tell about on-campus violence. Not one. No on-campus shootings, stabbings, or gang fights. Why? Because the campuses of my junior high and high school were always on lockdown. There were only a few designated entry and exit points, and armed security officers stood at both. Everything else was gated up, chained up, and sealed up. The point of the gates and the guns was twofold: prevent truancy by making escape harder than at Rikers, and prevent off-campus gang members from sneaking onto campus to buy or sell drugs, or to fight. And wouldn’t you know it, the parents of the minority white students were fine with this arrangement. No weepy-teary cries about how “we’ve militarized our schools! We’re mentally scarring the poor baby-wabies!” But these days, I turn on cable news and inevitably there’s some white suburban soccer mom wailing about how “we can’t turn our schools into armed compounds!” Funny how the leftist parents of my white and Jewish schoolmates never had that attitude when those gates and those guards were there to keep little Rachel and Josh and Becky safe from the specter of gun-totin’ pipe-smokin’ niggas. Back then, gates and guns were not just unobtrusive, but welcome.

And guess what—nobody got “scarred.” You know what would have “scarred” us? Daily gang fights, and the constant threat of stray bullets. Not only did the gates and guns not scar my precious little peer group of white and Jewish kids, but in fact, we found the security reassuring. We’d have been the first to complain had some blubbering leftist hag come on campus screeching about how “schools are not a place for guns and chained doors!” We’d have told an old biddy like that to get bent. But now, as the nation amuses itself with its newest “soul-searching debate,” this time over school shootings, we’re told that the notion of gates and guns on campus is the worst thing since Auschwitz.

“Folks, we’re not dealing with James Bond villains here. These are teens.”

It should be noted that the schools I attended didn’t just have gates and guns. We also had security officers with nads of steel. At my junior high, our security guy was nicknamed “Baretta,” after Robert Blake’s TV crime-fighter (our “Baretta” was Hispanic, but to a black kid, that might as well have been Italian). And Baretta would take your ass down if you misbehaved. I never saw him draw his weapon, but boy, did I see a few choke holds (always preventative, always in order to stop a brewing fight between students).

At my high school, our head of security was a suave, middle-aged black gentleman who was packing, and he made sure we knew it. I saw him draw his weapon only once. My fellow theater geeks and I were rehearsing a production of A Soldier’s Play (plays with black majority casts did well at my school), and one of the white actors, a blond-haired, redneck hillbilly type with the last name of Rocheford (which I always found humorous, as I tend to associate a surname like that with someone of class and breeding), thought it would be hilarious to take the toy gun he was using in the play and “draw” on our security guy (there’s them hillbilly smarts for ya!). Rocheford crept up behind the dude, pulled out the gun, and yelled, “Reach for it.” And within a split second Rocheford found himself staring down the barrel of the kind of gun that makes black men mull just how lucky they feel. But Rocheford, being white, merely pissed himself. And, far from being “scarred” by having witnessed a gun drawn on campus, the rest of us found the episode quite funny.

So how can I possibly relate to the howling harridans of white suburbia who bemoan turning schools into “armed compounds”? For six years that was my life, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just the opposite; the “gates ’n’ guns” policy made perfect sense to me, my friends, and our parents.

Look, I get the argument. Some Americans worry that “guns ’n’ gates” means giving in to fear and “surrendering” to the shooters. But that’s like saying that wearing a condom means surrendering to AIDS. Like it or not, school shootings are a “thing” in the U.S. We can debate for the next 200 years why they’re a thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are, just as crack and gangs were things of concern to L.A. schoolkids in the early ’80s. Yes, school shootings are not as common as the media likes to make them seem. But frankly, incidents in which Muslims ram vehicles into crowds of pedestrians are not exactly commonplace either. But still, this type of terrorist act has become a “thing” among Muslims, and the fact that it isn’t a daily occurrence hasn’t stopped cities in the U.S. and Europe from installing traffic barriers. Whatever the long-term solutions to that problem (well, there’s really only one: stop importing Muslims), it’s simple common sense that in the meantime we put up traffic barriers. In other words, stem the bleeding in triage before sending the patient into surgery.

Everyone is so obsessed with finding a “cure” for school shootings. We debate, over and over, the correct “final solution,” without stopping to ask if there can ever actually be one. Now, maybe one day we’ll hit upon a perfect one-size-fits-all answer. But as we debate, let’s at least acknowledge something that everyone, from the gun grabbers to the gun hoarders, from the “blame mental illness” crowd to the “blame violent video games” advocates, knows to be true: School shooters always reference (and appear to be influenced by) previous school shootings. This is because teens are prone to fads, which is because teens are very, very stupid. They are tiny-brained, feebleminded followers who rarely think things through and have not yet grasped notions like “consequences.” Throw a little mental illness, or a few bottles of prescription “behavioral control” drugs, into that mix, and you don’t just get a monster, but a moronic and highly impressionable monster. What’s necessary at the moment is to stop the fad, slow the trend, halt the cycle of shootings. If that means that a generation of poor widdle kiddies has to go to school with gates and guns (as I did), so be it.

To be sure, the recent Parkland shooting is unique in that every possible ball that could have been dropped was. Literally, no one did anything right, beyond the concerned tipsters who bafflingly believed that the FBI would take a pause from partisan hackery to investigate an actual crime. But the FBI isn’t going to get any better, at least not while Trump’s in office and FBI agents continue to dedicate their lives to “the resistance.” So fuck ’em; let’s not even consider those dolts. Let’s just look at Deputy Barney Fife (a.k.a. Scot Peterson), the scared-of-his-own-shadow, do-nothing Parkland school security chief. To reiterate a point I made earlier, at my high school, our head security guy, though always polite, nevertheless made it clear that he would drop you like a skeet pigeon if he had to. And at the start of every day, and during lunchtime (when students were allowed to go off campus to eat), there were only two points of entry to the school, both flanked by security guys, and no one was allowed in without proper student identification. Had a Nikolas Cruz type—an ex-student with no current school ID—tried to gain entry, he’d have been surrounded by two armed men with guns and a willingness to use them.

The tandem guards were located inside the school, so they could not be targeted from outside. You walked through the doorway, and there’d be one on each side of you. Sure, under such circumstances a teen could still come in blasting, but I would add that, along with being stupid and impressionable, teens are also very, very cowardly. The idea of engaging in a firefight with someone they know will shoot back is probably unappealing to most of them. Teens only find courage in large groups or when their opponent is helpless. And yes, potential shooters can still climb a fence or a wall, but forcing them to do so adds one more piece of suspicious activity that, in theory, could be spotted and reported. Plus, along with being stupid, impressionable, and cowardly, teens are also preternaturally lazy. Nobody shirks hard work like a teen, so a few physical obstacles might not be a bad idea.

In a surprise overtime victory in the finals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament, the Russians defeated Germany, 4-3.

But the Russians were not permitted to have their national anthem played or flag raised, due to a past doping scandal. So, the team ignored the prohibition and sang out the Russian national anthem over the sounds of the Olympic anthem.

One recalls the scene in “Casablanca,” where French patrons of Rick’s saloon stood and loudly sang the “La Marseillaise” to drown out the “Die Wacht am Rhein” being sung by a table of German officers.

When the combined North-South Korean Olympic team entered the stadium, Vice President Mike Pence remained seated and silent. But tens of thousands of Koreans stood and cheered the unified team.

America may provide a defensive shield for the South, but Koreans on both sides of the DMZ see themselves as one people. And, no fool, Kim Jong Un is exploiting the deep tribal ties he knows are there.

Watching the Russians defiantly belt out their anthem, one recalls also the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City where sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the podium, black gloved fists thrust skyward in a Black Power salute, asserting their separate racial identity.

Western elites may deplore the return of nationalism. But they had best not dismiss it, for assertions of national and tribal identity appear to be what the future is going to be all about.

“Does anyone think Angela Merkel looks like the future?”

Some attendees at the CPAC conclave this past week were appalled that Britain’s Nigel Farage and France’s Marion Le Pen were present.

But Farage was the man most responsible for Brexit, the historic British decision to leave the EU. Le Pen is perhaps the most popular figure in a National Front party that won 35 percent of the vote in the runoff election won by President Emmanuel Macron.

And the most unifying stand of the NF appears to be “Let France be France!” The French people do not want their country invaded by unassimilable millions of migrants from Africa and the Islamic world.

They want France to remain what she has been. Is this wrong?

Is preservation of a country, the national family one grew up in, not conservative?

In Hungary and Poland, ethnonationalism, the belief that nation-states are created and best suited to protect and defend a separate and unique people, with its separate and unique history and culture, is already ascendant.

Globalists may see the U.N., EU, NAFTA, TPP as stepping stones to a “universal nation” of all races, tribes, cultures and creeds. But growing numbers in every country, on every continent, reject this vision. And they are seeking to restore what their parents and grand-parents had, a nation-state that is all their own.

Nationalists like Farage, who seek to pull their countries out of socialist superstates like the EU, and peoples seeking to secede and set up new nations like Scotland, Catalonia, Corsica and Veneto today, and Quebec yesterday, are no more anti-conservative than the American patriots of Lexington and Concord who also wanted a country of their own.

Why are European peoples who wish to halt mass migration from across the Med, to preserve who and what they are, decried as racists?

Did not the peoples of African and Middle Eastern countries, half a century ago, expel the European settlers who helped to build those countries?

The Rhodesia of Spitfire pilot Ian Smith was a jewel of a nation of 250,000 whites and several million blacks that produced trade surpluses even when boycotted and sanctioned by a hating world.

Hey, what the heck is wrong with white guys these days?

It’s easy to find people eager to answer that question. I’ll spotlight four recent essays—two from white authors, two from black authors.

This is Jerrod Laber. He is 100% hu-white right down to the bone, from his blue eyes to his thin lips to his straight blond hair. But I suspect that if Jerrod were able, he’d crawl right out of his white skin and replace it with any pigmentation that was urine-colored or darker.

White males in Generation Z aren’t that woke after all,” Laber bemoans in a Washington Examiner piece about how young white males are kinda, like, racist and sexist assholes just like their daddies and their daddies’ daddies were.

(In case you were unaware, “woke” is a term used by urban teens to describe a mental state in which one believes they are cognizant of how the world really works but instead wouldn’t have a clue if it slapped them in the face. Saying that someone is “woke” is a hip way of saying that they suffer from Dunning-Kruger effect.)

“The problem with white guys these days is that they think there’s something wrong with being white guys. Once they solve that problem, the rest will be a breeze.”

Laber says that white men—himself excluded, I’m assuming—are prone to racism and denial and delusions of persecution. He says nothing more of substance than that they’re bad people who should feel bad about this fact, which eventually will be the only way they’ll possibly feel good about themselves, although he can’t guarantee anything.

He says he wants to have an “honest discourse about race,” but I suspect that it’d take only about a minute of real honesty about race to have him melting like a candle.

Another white guy who has a problem with white guys these days is music critic Daniel Johanson. I’ve stared at his picture for an hour and still have no idea what this guy is. He says he’s white—actually, it’s more like he confesses that he’s white—but he must be using a very broad definition of the term. If I had to venture a guess, I’d reckon he’s part-Lebanese, part-Ewok. Still, he says he’s white, so I’ll do the decent thing and hold him accountable for every last sin of his forefathers.

Daniel recently penned a bold and trailblazing essay called “Classical Music’s White Male Supremacy is Overt, Pervasive, and a Problem” in some magazine I’ve never heard of before and hope to never hear of again. In Dan’s extended lamentation, he takes music made by white males in a white-male environment to task for being, you know, too white-maley.

Lest you get any weird ideas, Mr. Johanson wants to inform you that he is a white man but is NOT happy about it one bit:

As a white man, there have been and continue to be countless times in which I have needed to recognize that privilege, white supremacy, homophobia, toxic masculinity, and gender normativity are layered issues. It’s easy to call a Nazi a racist because they are so obviously a racist. Not all racists are willing to take up that mantle.

I gotta tell you: The way he describes it, it sounds positively exhausting to be a white man.

As a white man, Daniel Johanson has a bone to pick with all those dead white men who composed all those dead white symphonies, as if poor black Americans are threatening to burn down cities from coast to coast if they aren’t allowed easier access to opera music.

Have you ever met a black person that didn’t love opera music? I haven’t. And when I say that, I mean that I’ve never asked any black people about it. It’s one of those topics that you instinctually know not to raise with them because they’d probably laugh in your face.

“Recognizing that Classical Music has implied White Supremacy for centuries is hard for those that study the art form,” Johanson ululates. Actually, it’s easy to recognize for anyone who realizes that it’s almost exclusively a white male art form. You may get the occasional 65-pound chick from Asia who can play the hell out of a violin, but she’s merely an exception and a token and classical music is fundamentally a white-guy thing, which is why you wouldn’t understand.

Johanson’s piece referenced a recent Washington Post essay in which some white broad lamented that classical music was “white bread”—she actually used that phrase three times—and looked forward to a day when the classical-music scene became more “colorful” and wasn’t just “just devoted to works by the same white men.”

Again—these people seem to think that if your average urban black male is denied early exposure to the works of Vivaldi, he may lose all hope and turn to a life of crack cocaine and endless gunplay.

White men can’t seem to stop causing problems for others. Not only are they destroying classical music, they’re ruining the moods of black people across the country. Day after day, black bloggers openly scorn white men for harshing their mellow.

Over at the Good Men Project—which is a website that teaches the only good men are those who’ve been completely stripped of their manhood—a black man with the wonderfully Founding Father-y name of Franklin Madison scolds white males en masse for tryin’ to pull some bullshit and claim they ain’t racist. “You, White Males, Don’t Get to Define Whether You Are Racist or Not,” Madison lectures us white males in a manner that we would be racist for suggesting might not only be condescending, but also a little controlling.

“What’s it going to take for white men to start talking about race?” Madison asks.

The Week’s Most Inveterate, Degenerate, and Confederate Headlines

The Pacific Northwest is an extremely white area of the USA that has extreme problems with its extreme whiteness. They treat their five or ten black people up there as exotic pets and suffer constant hallucinations that Nazis and Klansmen are lurking behind every Douglas fir.

Last week a news tip was sent to the Seattle Times:

Hi. Suddenly there is a Confederate flag flying in front of a house in my Greenwood neighborhood.…I would love to know what this ‘means’…but of course don’t want to knock on their door. Maybe others in the area are flying the flag? Maybe it’s a story? Thank you.

The tip was from Rebecca Morris, a best-selling true-crime author. Perhaps to her extreme dismay, the flag turned out to be a Norwegian one. Except for the color scheme, Norwegian flags really don’t look very much like Rebel flags at all, although this isn’t the first time someone has had a panic attack by mistaking a Norwegian flag for a Rebel flag.

The flag’s owner, a proud Norseman named Darold Norman Strangeland who brags that his dad “skippered tugboats,” says he hoisted the flag last week in honor of the fact that Norway is kicking everyone else’s ass in the Winter Olympics.

What’s even stranger is that Seattle has a heavily Norwegian neighborhood called Ballard where you can’t spit without hitting a Norwegian flag and you can’t walk without slipping on a piece of lutefisk. When informed that she made an honest (if paranoid) mistake, Rebecca Morris said, “Maybe that’s the story…we’re so stressed by all things political that we see things that aren’t there.”

Yeah, that’s been the story for quite a while now, Toots.

“Apparently it’s OK to recognize some patterns but not others. These rules are so hard to follow sometimes.”

Here’s a picture of Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner dutifully gulping down a glass of chocolate milk to prove that he’s A-OK with Negroes and just about any other grievance group who’d be prone to publicly humiliating him by forcing him to drink chocolate milk as some sort of weird penance for his skin color and gender.

It happened last week at some Black History Month shindig in Chicago when a very fat and gay-looking black male named Tyronne Stoudemire—who is the global chief diversity officer for Hyatt Hotels, and yes, that’s really a job, because it’s really important that nonwhites be allowed to rent hotel rooms, even though they already technically are allowed to do so—urged the gov’ner to reach out and show that he cares for:

…women, people of color, people with disabilities, the aging population, and generation X, Y, and Z….It’s not that organizations are not diverse, but when you look at most organizations, diversity sits, what? At the bottom of the organization. You don’t get inclusion until you stir it up. I want you to stir it up, governor. Stir it up.

After delivering this soul-stirring soliloquy, Governor Rauner held out a glass full of lily-white milk and allowed Stoudemire to befoul it with large, gloppy squirts of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. He then eagerly chugged it down before giving a thumbs up and shouting, “It’s really, really good…Diversity!”

Personally, we don’t think that diversity is the only thing this guy is gulping down.

Take a deep breath, because this story is weird on so many levels and from so many angles that your brain may collapse.

Wayne LaPierre, president of the NRA—you know, that super-powerful lobbying organization that uses money to influence our political system even though, if you want to get technical, its net assets aren’t even a quarter of what the SPLC has in their war chest—gave a speech last week at CPAC in which he warned that “European-style socialists” were leading a putsch to erase gun rights and disarm the good and gentle people of these here doggone United States.

For some reason—we’ll let you decide—two prominent Jewish publications decided to use his speech as evidence that LaPierre is calling for armed resistance against Jews, even though, if you want to split threads on a yarmulke, he didn’t once mention Jews by name.

In fact, it was the two Jewish publications that wound up “naming the Jew” in this case.

In NRA’s Response to School Massacre: Dog-whistle anti-Semitism, a Star-spangled Protocols of Zion” blares the psychotically paranoid and full-of-projection headline from Haaretz:

Again and again in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, LaPierre identified the enemies of the NRA, and of America, as Jews…

This is either inaccurate or an outright lie. Fact is, LaPierre did not once use the word “Jew” in his speech. Note how Haaretz [inserts the Jew] in this passage from LaPierre’s speech:

History proves it. Every time, in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated. It is all backed in this country by the social engineering, and the billions, of people like [philanthropists of Jewish lineage] George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and more….Absolute control, in every corner of our government, is their ultimate dream. These intellectual elites, they think they’re smarter than we are. They think they’re smarter than the rest of us. And they think they’re better than we are.

The Jewish Forward, almost as if they were operating from the same playbook as Haaretz, screamed that “The NRA Has An Anti-Semitism Problem,” although it has the basic decency to concede that “LaPierre’s speech never mentioned the word ‘Jew.’” But that didn’t stop author Jay Michaelson of blowin’ real hard on the ol’ Hyperbole Shofar by calling LaPierre’s speech “the knockout punch of conspiratorial anti-Semitism”:

This McCarthyite vision of a cancer destroying America…posits a good, mostly rural, less educated, implicitly white Volk being undermined by a corrupt, mostly urban, over-educated, and foreign set of elites. Sometimes those elites are actual Jews controlling Hollywood, “the media,” banks, or political structures.

Interestingly, Michaelson doesn’t make a peep about the fact that by his own account, the alleged shooter in the recent high-school massacre in Florida was born to a Jewish mother. But he does mention that there were a “disproportionate number of Jewish victims” in the shooting.

Apparently it’s OK to recognize some patterns but not others. These rules are so hard to follow sometimes.

SNITCHIN AND DIE CRACKER” read the bright-blue lettering spray-painted on the side of the South Philadelphia home of the Joe and Margaux Messina, who are white and whose 12-year old son Joey was the victim of a six-on-one school hallway attack by black teens a few weeks ago at his school.

Recalling that attack, Joey said:

They don’t like me, they never did…they all started coming in and punching my back, I was covering my face.

One night last week, some “teens” allegedly harassed Joey while he was walking home. When his mother awoke the next morning, she discovered the graffiti:

I turned around and just went, ‘Oh my God.’ I called him and said, ‘Hurry up, get out here and look at this.…To write the word die, that’s really, like, taking it far. It wasn’t just a racial comment. It was die.…They let them run that school. It’s a shame to say, they really do. They don’t care about the gangs in there, they deny that when there really is….God forbid if they retaliate and start shooting at our house. We’re really concerned about that.

According to Joey’s father, Joe Messina:

He walked outside and saw that, he came right in, said, ‘Dad, I am scared now.’…We’re trying to get him into another school and he was an honor roll student and his grades are starting to drop cause it’s consistent bullying ….I want to go up to that school and confront the main people and how am I composing myself, I don’t even know. I’m ready to explode….

Joey will not be returning to the school in question. A local news article blamed the whole mess on “schoolyard differences,” which, from what we can glean, arose from a dispute over Saltine crackers.

I would make a very bad bodyguard—not that it has ever been my ambition to be one. I would be useless not merely because I am incapable of fighting, but because I am not suspicious (and therefore vigilant) enough. Notwithstanding a cynical view of the world, I am generally trusting of the individuals around me.

In Paris recently an old lady of my acquaintance asked me to accompany her to an ATM from which she wanted to withdraw a considerable sum. She feared to walk about with such a sum in her possession and asked me to guard her.

She took my arm and we walked the hundred yards to the machine. When we got there she searched her bag, but her wallet, containing her credit cards as well as her identity documents, was gone.

She had carried her bag, which unfortunately she had left open, in her usual way, that is to say by a strap over her shoulder hanging in front of her. By the time we reached the ATM, the bag had been slid on her shoulder to just behind her back. She had felt, and I had seen, nothing. The wallet had been swiftly and dexterously extracted from the bag. From a purely technical point of view, the theft had been carried out with great skill, though skill in pursuit of a bad end is hardly admirable. But the thief had the qualities one deemed necessary for a good surgeon: the eye of a hawk, the heart of a lion, and the hand of a lady.

“Notwithstanding a cynical view of the world, I am generally trusting of the individuals around me.”

Needless to say, I felt rather stupid: This was my first-ever excursion as someone’s bodyguard. The old lady, naturally enough, was distressed by what had happened, or rather had been done, to her, but she was kind enough to blame herself for having left her bag open, rather than me for having failed to prevent the theft.

How does someone learn to steal so adroitly from bags carried in the street, so adroitly that neither the victim nor companions nor passersby notice it? Clearly it is a skill, one that can hardly be spontaneously acquired. Are there Fagin-like schools in our cities, madrassas of crime? At any rate, this crime could hardly have been an impulsive response to urgent need such as apologists for crime are apt to cite in defense of criminals. It was strategy, not tactics.

I accompanied the old lady to the nearby police station. The city neighborhood was a prosperous one, in which a smallish flat costs $1 million and when such a flat comes up for sale is snapped up immediately; but even prosperous neighborhoods have their dark underbelly. Oddly enough, even though I had myself lived in the neighborhood several weeks a year for several years, I had not seen it before. My life in Paris is one of dining out, exhibitions, going to the cinema, and writing in my flat.

Outside the police station were several tough-looking men, more paratroopers than civilian police. One of them had an automatic gun at the ready. How boring it must be to stand there all day, weapon at the ready, with nothing to shoot! And how tempting it must be to loose off! They demanded to know why we had come; they were suspicious at first, for one day, almost certainly, a little old lady will perpetrate a suicide bombing. Their suspicions conquered, they politely waved us inside.

The policemen behind the counter were not exactly rude, but neither were they reassuring or sympathetic. For us it was an event of major importance, for them just another case, and one to which Sherlock Holmes would have ascribed no points of interest. They found it hard to grasp that she could not identify herself because all her identifying papers had been stolen. They gave her a choice: wait several hours to make her statement, or come back in a few days’ time with an appointment. Since reporting to the police was for insurance purposes rather than in expectation of capture of the culprits, the latter was the better option.

As we left, another lady was explaining to the men with the automatic weapon that her wallet had just been taken from her bag and she wanted to enter the police station to report it.

Gstaad—It was nostalgia time at Prince Victor Emmanuel’s birthday party here, with many old friends reminiscing about our youthful shenanigans in times gone by. Victor—the pretender to the Italian throne—and I go back a long way, more than sixty years. In a very roundabout manner, so do our families. His namesake and grandfather, King Victor Emmanuel, facilitated Benito Mussolini’s rise to power, although he was the one who dismissed him in August 1943 and declared Italy no longer a combatant. My mother’s youngest brother, at age 12, had written the Duce a fan letter. Benito invited him to visit Italy as the Duce’s guest, and sure enough my uncle went and stayed with him in Villa Torlonia for a fortnight. Ironically, he fought against the Italians in Albania and died of his wounds after the war. Victor and I have talked about this many times, and both of us remain admirers of the Duce—up to a point, that is.

Back then, nationalism was what counted. Nationalism and patriotism were one and the same. Today both words are considered suspect, as a Trump-like gaucherie, something that only an unsophisticated rube can believe in. Sovereignty ditto. We are, or so they tell us, one big family, and those three words are bad for the common good. Davos man is the type who frowns on nationalism-patriotism, the man being a paragon of neoliberalism and a paid-off member of the globally networked elite. The D-man would sell his mother for a shekel, and his country for an even lower price. When lost in the mists of alcohol, I dream of my perfect state, which is Sparta, and wonder how Davos man would deal with it. Knowing how slick and lubricious the D-man is—a cross between Anna Soubry and Jean-Claude Juncker—the Swiss should name the convention center in Davos after Ephialtes, the traitor who led the Persians to the path behind the gallant 300 at Thermopylae.

“The national idea is as natural as loving one’s children.”

The Spectator’s ex-editor Boris got it right when he said that if we’re going to accept laws, we have to know who is making them. Not some faceless, unelected bureaucrat in Brussels, but someone we can vote out the next time. This is where the falseness of the argument against Brexit stands out, the “contemptus mundi” of the self-proclaimed elites. How can unelected bureaucrats of the E.U. accuse Poland and Hungary and the Visegrad states of being undemocratic when their leaders have all been elected democratically? If this isn’t 1984, what is? (And how can Israel accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust—the Poles were victims—while running the largest concentration camp in the world, Gaza?) How can George Soros undermine Balkan countries with his billions and go after the democratically elected Viktor Orban when he couldn’t get elected water boy for an all-girls tiddlywinks team? And what’s he doing undermining the will of the British people with paid clowns like this Malloch-Brown fellow? Georgie Porgie wants a borderless Europe, but he ain’t gonna get it, billions or no billions, and he won’t get it because it is unnatural. The betrayal of Germany by Angela Merkel—I see a Muslim takeover of Germany through 10–1 breeding in perhaps as soon as fifty years—is a lesson for all of us. The Italian people have seen the light, as have the Greeks, but Brussels is a hard nut to crack and it has the media behind it. The latter are so consumed with rage against Trump, they made a heroine of little rocket man’s sister. Forget about the mass tortures and starvations and murders of his people. If Trump dislikes the little rocket man, he must be good.

Recovering in my chalet after Victor Emmanuel’s party, I happened on a wonderful film, Suite Française, an adaptation of the tragic Irene Nemirovsky novel of the same name. She never finished her novel—she was arrested for being Jewish and murdered in a camp—so the movie does it for her. I had read it when it was discovered in 2004, and I was not disappointed. The love affair between a French beauty and a wonderful German officer rings true, as does the pettiness and hatred of the French bourgeoisie and peasantry. One thing that struck me that the director got right was the politeness of the Wehrmacht officers, as well as the looks of the German soldiers. I was 4 when they came to occupy our house in Athens, and I remember Major Henry Murgen very well. He was charming and played with me and told me all about his own boys, and I can still smell the leather and see the brilliance of his boots and belts. He was tall, blond, and handsome, as were the majority of Germans at the time. Films nowadays portray them as bullet-headed Slavs, but I was there; modern Hollywood types were not.

Never mind. The national idea is as natural as loving one’s children. D-man and Georgie Porgie don’t like it, so it’s up to us to overcome their billions with willpower and—dare I say it—violence if necessary. We won at the ballot box, and the losers are crying foul. They do exactly this in Africa and in small South American countries. Also in Britain.

If, as many geniuses have believed, civilization depends on individual restraint, then in order to maintain restraint, we require certain outlets for the primordial feelings of anger, aggression, and resentment that we experience throughout the course of life. Premodern societies, with their frequent wars, provided more opportunities for discharging these impulses. By contrast, in our feeble, post-Christian country, anyone who is what used to be called a plain dealer—honest, frank, and direct—may be thought to have “anger management issues,” to engender “a hostile work environment,” to have “oppositional defiant disorder,” or God-knows-what. Therefore, although our therapeutic culture values nothing so much as the individual’s feelings, there is still a lot of repression as regards negative emotions.

That seems paradoxical, no doubt, for how querulous people are today. Yet the endless complaints reflect only a portion of the discontent, and moreover are a symptom of a primary desire to inflict suffering. Instead of such direct conflict, we have identity politics, which daily demonstrate “the pleasure of hating,” to borrow William Hazlitt’s phrase. Hatred, aggression, and resentment surface in the arts and academia and the media especially. It is prudent to be mindful that you are surrounded by people who, though all smiles and “nice to meet you,” would be happy to punch you in the face (or worse), but don’t because they fear the law and are cowards besides.

The wickedness has deep-seated sources. After all, after the sexual revolution, the pill, and no-fault divorce, many people simply no longer know how to make romantic relationships work. Thus, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, while 40 percent of children are born out of wedlock. Although Americans have never been so free, they have ironically never been so lonely—another source of angst. The work situation, too, is a source of much malaise. The wise cultural stewardship called for by great men from Thomas Carlyle to Christopher Lasch has proved to be beyond the ability of all but a tiny fraction of men and women, although without it there is neither a state nor democracy, but only networks of business interests. People are egoists, so like the “good team members” of corporate America, our morality is often mere pretense. Politicians use lofty words to shamelessly manipulate citizens. Promises are made, but in practice jobs are sent overseas and go to Mexican illegal immigrants, while our leaders and their donors live proudly philistine lives. Finally, even many of us who have gainful employment remain unhappy. The hours are exceedingly long; the “can-do attitude” is wearisome; and the work itself produces things that are worse than useless.

“There are so many bad ideas, and such moral rot, that only war can rid us of the many pathologies that obviate culture and democracy alike.”

So, in short, we are in a bad way; so much so, it seems, that the manner in which people perceive reality is increasingly distorted—a kind of cultural sickness, as it were. Consider, for example, the uniquely wretched writer Daniel Johanson on the Lyric Opera of Chicago. On its website, the latter says:

We pride ourselves on bringing you diverse programming, and the 2018/19 Season is no exception. Verdi and Puccini in all their passion, elegant Handel and Mozart, romantic Massenet, mighty Strauss and Wagner—there’s no end to the riches that will make this season one to remember.

As if in self-parody, Johanson writes:

As a white man, there have been and continue to be countless times in which I have needed to recognize that privilege, white supremacy, homophobia, toxic masculinity, and gender normativity are layered issues. It’s easy to call a Nazi a racist because they are so obviously a racist. Not all racists are willing to take up that mantle.

Recognizing that Classical Music has implied White Supremacy for centuries is hard for those that study the art form.

The diversity of excellence is of no interest to a Last Man like Johanson. For him, there is an obvious moral evil in the fact that the programming (“White Supremacy”) contains no women and minorities. No matter that all the great composers have been white men. Johanson appears to think that merit is determined by race and gender, though of course he’d never object to the fact that only 18 percent of NBA players are white.

One wants to say to Johanson: “Why take up ‘that mantle’? If you value ‘diversity,’ why not simply appreciate the music of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James, and other women and ‘people of color’ along with the Great Dead White Men? Why such petty divisiveness? What good does it do you or anyone?”

Yet such questions would be fruitless. For Johanson, I submit, is in deep despair. A healthy-minded person certainly would not take his attitude to classical music. And having a base nature, Johanson deals with his condition by means of the would-be virtuous masochism we see above. “As a white man,” he says, and the phrase really means: “I loathe myself and I apologize for my existence.” If you are reading this and in need of someone to be an object of your altruism, you might reach out to Johanson. He may want you to whip him, slap him, spit on him, or some such thing.

Elsewhere Johanson tells us: “I am, no matter how hard I work against it, part of…[the] imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. I just am.” And now ready to admonish, he declares: “While it can feel overwhelming to look inward on what is toxic white masculinity and how it manifests in the way you interact with women, or queer folks, or POC, or trans folks, or literally anyone, your actions stifle and shackle marginalized people every day.” For “there is no corner that toxic masculinity hasn’t pervaded. National, local, conservative, liberal, progressive, rich, poor, it’s the least common denominator. It’s part of my identity, and it’s part of the person I am now. That’s where I have to work from.”

Never in even his most misanthropic reflections on the degenerate character of the modern world did Nietzsche imagine a man as contemptible as Johanson, whose self-abasing type is now so common. You’d think that the fellow would have mercy on himself, or at least on us, and commit suicide. But that is unlikely to happen, because, however unhealthy, there is some vitality in a perspective that beholds enemies virtually everywhere. A person who has a boring and unsatisfying job, as Johanson may, gets a kind of forward drive from his “mantle.” He allies himself to fellow vulgarians, who feel much solidarity as together they stew in tepid baths of resentment. “Scratch my back, nonbinary.” “Why, thank you, blue-haired queer! It is very pleasant, our resistance.”

There are now a great many Americans like Johanson, people whose perceptions are perverted by the paucity of value that marks our time. It is important to understand how this works. First, we must realize that the bad elements of our nature (envy, hatred, greed, and other vices) are not less essential than the good ones. Indeed, the latter are not even intelligible without the former. Second, we need to understand how our internal state determines our misperceptions of the external world (even if we aren’t aware of it, as often happens). This is not difficult to grasp. Surely we have all had the experience of being in a bad mood, with the result that our perception—and so, our understanding and reaction—of something is significantly influenced by how we feel. We overreact, and only later do we recognize that and make a reasonable judgment. Meanwhile, however reluctant we may be to consider it, a perhaps necessary function has taken place: We have discharged a certain affect, whose origin had nothing to do with the object, so now we can get on with the rest of life.

In days gone by, a massacre of students like the atrocity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would have brought us together.

But like so many atrocities before it, this mass murder is tearing us apart.

The perpetrator, the sick and evil 19-year-old who killed 17 innocents with a gun is said to be contrite.

Having confessed, he faces life in prison. For the next half-century, Nikolas Cruz will be fed, clothed, sheltered and medicated at the expense of Florida taxpayers, including the families of those he murdered.

Cruz’s punishment seems neither commensurate with his crimes nor a deterrent for sick and evil minds contemplating another Columbine.

It didn’t use to be this way.

On Feb 15, 1933, anarchist Giuseppe Zangara tried to assassinate President-elect Franklin Roosevelt in Miami. His arm jostled, he killed instead Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Five weeks later, on March 20, 1933, Zangara died in the electric chair.

Swift, sure and pitiless, but that legal justice system worked.

With Cruz, the system failed up and down the line.

“The NRA was not responsible for the system-wide failure from Douglas High to the FBI.”

Cruz should never have been allowed to purchase or possess a gun. He was angry, alienated, isolated. Police had been to his family home to deal with complaints 39 times. Yet he had no arrest record when he purchased his AR-15.

Classmates at Douglas High had speculated that if there ever were a school shooting, Cruz would be the one to do it. The FBI was alerted a month before that Nikolas Cruz was a time bomb ready to explode.

As the NRA’s Dana Loesch told CPAC Thursday:

“The government can’t keep you safe and some people want us to give up our firearms and rely solely upon the protection of the same government that’s already failed us numerous times to keep us safe.”

As for the AR-15, it is the most popular rifle sold. Five million to 8 million are in circulation. Veterans since Vietnam have trained with, and many fought with, the M16, which is first cousin to the AR-15. Veterans are among the millions who own them.

While all agree AR-15s should be kept out of the hands of crazies like Cruz, the establishment insists that it is the gun that is the problem.

We hear demands that AR-15s be banned and confiscated.

Proponents should put that proposition to a vote. But a prediction: The moment it is brought up for a vote, sales of AR-15s will explode, as they have before. If the weapon is banned, as alcohol was banned in Prohibition, millions of law-abiding Americans will become law-breakers.

And who will barge into America’s homes to seize and collect the rifles?

Moreover, if people have decided to mass murder classmates or co-workers, inviting “suicide by cop,” are they going to be stopped from acquiring a semiautomatic by a Congressional law?

Have our drug laws halted drug use?

NEW YORK—Back in the bad old days of the cocaine epidemic, there was a sheriff in Jasper County, Texas, who was visited one morning by four federal agents—two from the FBI and two from the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was a courtesy call. They didn’t really need his help. They’d already made a case on two brothers living in a trailer outside of town who were running a drug operation, and they were about to surround the house with armed officers, break down the door with a no-knock warrant, and make the arrests.

The sheriff asked for the names of the drug dealers, then said, “I know those boys. Let me call ’em first.”

The federal agents freaked out. Absolutely not. The takedown wasn’t ready.

But the sheriff was undeterred. Amidst threats from the lead FBI man, he picked up the phone, got one of the brothers on the line, and said, “You and Billy need to come down to my office, we know what you’re doing and you have to go to court for it.”

Fifteen minutes later, both brothers arrived at the county courthouse to turn themselves in.

That’s called knowing your people—knowing them so well they never fear you even when they have something to hide, because they know you’ll be fair to them.

“He was like the big brother you could always talk to because he would never judge you.”

Billy Graham knew his people. He constantly called them to live a life they thought they were incapable of, then showed them how to get there. When they screwed that up, he told them how to get back to it. When they wandered away for years and years, he showed them how little it mattered in the grand scheme of Christ. He was like the big brother you could always talk to because he would never judge you. He was the epitome of the old John Knox admonition to condemn the sin but never the sinner.

This is why he was out of fashion in the Baptist Church, and in evangelical Christianity generally. People wanted him to preach about Communism, but he wanted to preach about Christ. People wanted him to preach about Watergate, but he chose to preach about Christ. People wanted him to preach about the sexual revolution, and especially about AIDS, but he kept hammering away: Come to Christ, come to Christ, come to Christ, it covers all situations.

I don’t really want to add to the billions of words being written about Billy Graham today—his life and career are well chronicled, and his impact on Christianity firmly established—but I do want to make three points about his message that should make 90 percent of the modern Christian world ashamed of itself.

Numero Uno: Billy Graham never built a megachurch.

From his first crusade in Los Angeles in 1948, held in a tent on a downtown street corner, to his last one at the old World’s Fair site in Queens, where he preached for three days at age 86 and seemed to be gaining strength, he always had local pastors present to take charge of the people who made that long walk to the altar. He knew that the gospel is worked out in small groups, face-to-face, man-to-man, not in basketball arenas outfitted with Jumbotrons. It’s an irony of his legacy that the man who preached to more people than anyone in history—his foundation says about 215 million—believed in the Jewish idea of the minyan, the small local church, the autonomous group of people who make up the body of Christ.

Billy Graham could have founded the largest church in the world, rivaling those million-member congregations in South Korea, but he didn’t think being a pastor was his office. In fact, he always sought counsel from his own pastor—in recent years, Don Wilton of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Churches that play a numbers game, even going so far as to build sermons around real estate acquisitions, represent the very essence of confusing mammon with God.

Numero Two-o: Billy Graham was considered too liberal—and too conservative.

At the Southern Baptist Convention he was considered soft. To the so-called “mainstream” denominations, he was thought of as a fire-breather. To anyone attempting to move the culture toward secularism, he was an anachronism. This is perfectly in line with the expectation of Christians since the first century that the gospel, when preached, will be a comfort to some but an affliction to many.